Chettiyar weddings are a grand and elaborate affair and can span for up to three days or more, punctuated with various interesting rituals. Every Nagarathar marriage has to be approved and registered in the respective groom’s temple. Once approved,a garland is delivered to the bride’s home on behalf of the temple authorities on the wedding day. This marks the beginning of all festivities.
The Chettinad people are generous when it comes gifting and the bride’s trousseau is legendary and famous for the sheer number of items in all forms of gold, diamonds, silver and steel. Even the kolams -the ‘Nadu Veettu Kolam drawn to mark the wedding stands out for its intricacies. The bridegroom procession accompanied by a band and the whole contingent of relatives is a colorful spectacle celebrated with much fanfare.
A peep into the customs of a Nagarathar Wedding
During the Pen paarthal the groom’s family is offered a silver bucket with banana and coconut along with betel leaves and betel nuts. If the groom and his family like the bride they can take the silver bucket as a token that they like the bride. This is called “Vaali vaanguthal”. Pesi mudithu kolludhal is a gesture where both the families exchange betel leaves and nuts to finalize the alliance. A bamboo cane is fitted with mango leaves and after a puja, the cane is marked with kumkum and turmeric at 5 places. This is then tied up straight so the neighbors and others in the locality is notified of the wedding that the house is getting ready for. This custom is known as Muhurtha kaal unrudhal. Paniayarams made of rice flour and jaggery are made and distributed after the Podhu Padaippu which is a joint prayer by both families. The Pen edukki kattuthal is the first meeting between the bride and groom. The maternal uncles on both sides wrap mamakara pattu which is a fluorescent pink silk towel for the Thirupootuthal. Each of them carry the manai carrying the bride and groom, and the kaluthiru or chettiyar thali is tied. Many more rituals follow like the Vaevu irakkuthal, Mamiyar sadangu done by the mother in law, Poo manam choridhal where the male relatives bless the couple with petals, Manjal neeru aduthal when the feet of the couple is washed by the cousins using turmeric water, Kattu soaru unnuthal and Pen azhaippu when the couple is asked to pick random things out of 3 silver pots. This is like a game to see who would take over different roles when they run a family.